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  • CHS
  • U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc.
  • National Cattlemen's Beef Association
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Get ready for ag day 2007

Fun Facts: About the Food We Eat

This array of facts are concerned with trivial and not-so-trivial information about food. We also compiled a list of facts on plants, animals and agriculture in the U.S.: Ag Day Fun Facts: Flora, Fauna and Food for Thought.

Corn Poppin' Facts

Popcorn pops because water is stored in a small circle of soft starch in each kernel. As the kernel is heated, the water heats, the droplet of moisture turns to steam and the steam builds up pressure until the kernel finally explodes to many times its original volume.
  • Americans today consume 17.3 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year! The average American eats about 68 quarts!
  • While the first breakfast cereal was made by adding sugar and milk to popped popcorn, a shortage of baking flours after World War II forced breadmakers to substitute up to 25% of wheat flour with ground popped popcorn. Over the years, popcorn also has been used as an ingredient in pudding, candy, soup, salad and entrees.
  • Popcorn’s nutritional value comes from the fact that, like other cereal grains, its primary function is to provide the body with heat and energy.
  • Microwave popcorn is the same as other popcorn except the kernels are usually larger and the packaging is designed for maximum popability.

Cherrific!

  • The same chemicals that give tart cherries their color may relieve pain better than aspirin and ibuprofen in humans.
  • Eating about 20 tart cherries a day could reduce inflammatory pain and headache pain.
  • There are about 7,000 cherries on an average tart cherry tree (the number varies depending on the age of the tree, weather and growing conditions). It takes about 250 cherries to make a cherry pie, so each tree could produce enough cherries for 28 pies!
  • Today, in Michigan, there are almost 4 million cherry trees which annually produce 150 to 200 pounds of tart cherries.

Head Strong

  • Lettuce is a member of the sunflower family.
  • Darker Green lettuce leaves are more nutritious than lighter green leaves.
  • Americans eat about 30 pounds of lettuce every year. That’s about five times more than what we ate in the early 1900s.
  • In the United States, lettuce is the second most popular fresh vegetable.
  • Almost all lettuce is packed right in the field.
  • About 25% of all iceberg lettuce is made into fresh cut salads.

What’s up Doc?

  • The plant pigment that gives carrots and other vegetables their vivid orange color is Beta-Carotene. Fruits and Vegetables that are yellow/orange in color contain Beta-Carotene and carrots are one of the richest in this nutrient. Our bodies convert Beta-Carotene into Vitamin A.
  • The bright orange color of carrots tell you they’re an excellent source of Vitamin A which is important for good eyesight, especially at night. Vitamin A helps your body fight infection, and keeps your skin and hair healthy!

Berry, Berry Good for You!

  • Blueberries are the second most popular berry in the United States.
  • Michigan and New Jersey produce 66% of all the blueberries in the United States, followed by North Carolina, Oregon and Washington.
  • Over 200 million pounds of blueberries are grown every year in North America.
  • Blueberries are first picked by hand to gather the best of the early fruit. Later, if the fruit is to be mechanically harvested, a harvesting machine goes through the field and gently shakes each bush so only the ripe blueberries drop off.
  • Blueberries are a good source of Vitamin C and fiber.

Cracking Up

  • In the U.S. in 1998, hens produced 6,657,000,000 dozen eggs - that’s 6.657 billion dozen! After these eggs were laid, about two-thirds were sold in the shell and one third of them were broken - not by accident, but on purpose. Because after the eggs are broken out of their shells, they can be made into liquid, frozen, dried and specialty egg products.
  • The egg shell may have as many as 17,000 tiny pores over its surface. Through them, the egg can absorb flavors and odors. Storing them in their cartons helps keep them fresh!
  • Eggs age more in one day at room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator.
  • Occasionally, a hen will produce double-yolked eggs throughout her egg-laying career. It is rare, but not unusual, for a young hen to produce an egg with no yolk at all.
  • It takes 24 to 26 hours for a hen to produce an egg; there is 30 minutes between each egg-producing cycle.
  • About 240 million laying hens produce about 5.5 billion dozen eggs per year in the United States.
  • Egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain Vitamin D.

Going Bananas!

  • There are over 500 different types of bananas. That means if you ate a different kind of banana everyday, it would take almost a year and a half to eat every one!
  • Although generally regarded as a tree, this large tropical plant is really an herb. That means it does not have a woody trunk like a tree. The stalk is composed of leaf sheaths that overlap each other and grow from an underground stem called a rhizome.
  • The banana plant can grow as high as 20 feet tall. That’s as big as a two-story house!
  • Bananas are about 99.5% fat free.
  • Bananas are a great source of potassium. Potassium helps build muscle power and keeps your body fluids in balance.
  • Banana’s are most likely the first fruit ever to be grown on a farm.

Macaroni Mania

  • Pasta is one of America’s favorite foods. Last year, 1.3 million pounds of pasta were sold in American grocery stores. If you lined up 1.3 million pounds of 16 oz. spaghetti packages, it could circle the Earth’s equator almost nine times!
  • Noodles got their start in China, not Italy as many people might think.
  • Pasta made its way to the New World through the English who found it while traveling through Italy. The English made pasta by cooking it for about a half an hour and then smothering it with cream sauce and cheese. This was the beginning of Macaroni and Cheese!
  • America’s first large pasta factory was built in Brooklyn, New York in 1848 by a Frenchman who would spread out his spaghetti strands on the roof to dry in the sunshine.

An Apple a Day

  • Apples are a member of the rose family.
  • Washington state grows the most apples in the U.S.
  • The apples from one tree can fill 20 boxes every year.
  • Fresh apples float because 25 percent of their volume is air.
  • In the winter, apple trees need to "rest" for about 900-1,000 hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit in order to flower and fruit properly.
  • If you grew 100 apple trees from the seeds of one tree, they would all be different.
  • Apples are high in fiber.
  • There are more than 7,000 varieties of apples grown in the world.

Green Greek Goddess

  • The name asparagus comes from the Greek language and means "sprout" or "shoot."
  • Asparagus is a member of the Lily family.
  • Asparagus is related to onions, leeks, and garlic.
  • One of the most popular varieties of green asparagus is named after Martha Washington, the wife of George Washington.
  • California grows about 70% of all the asparagus grown in the United States.
  • More than 50,000 tons of asparagus are grown in California every year.

Pumpkin Eater

  • Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites!
  • Pumpkin flowers are edible.
  • Pumpkins are 90% water.
  • Pumpkins are used for feed for animals.
  • Pumpkin seeds can be roasted as a snack.
  • Native Americans used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine.
  • In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
  • The name "pumpkin" originated from "pepon", the Greek word for "large melon."
  • Pumpkins contain potassium and Vitamin A.

Stacking Up!

  • The batter used to make pancakes is almost exactly the same as the batter used to make regular cakes. The pancake batter is just a little thinner.
  • Pancakes have become so popular, that people don’t just eat them for breakfast anymore. Many people like to eat pancakes for dinner!
  • On Pancake Day in Newfoundland (the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of lent), items are placed in the pancake batter before it is cooked to foretell the future for family members. If a boy received an item for a trade, it meant he would enter that trade. If a girl received an item for a trade, it meant she would marry a person from that trade.
  • Pretty Peachy

    • Peaches are a good source of Vitamin C.
    • The United States provides about one-fourth (25%) of the world’s total supply of fresh peaches.
    • The peach is a member of the rose family and will have a sweet fragrance when ripe.
    • Most peaches that are imported to the United States during winter months come from Chile.
    • Peaches are the third most popular fruit grown in America.

    Pizza Perfect

    • Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or 350 slices per second.
    • Each man, woman and child in America eats an average of 46 slices (23 pounds) of pizza a year.
    • Pepperoni is America’s favorite topping (36 percent of all pizza orders we eat approximately 251,770,000 pounds a year!
    • In America, anchovies always rank last on the list of favorite toppings.
    • In 1830 pizza truly began with the opening of the world’s first pizzeria. Port’ Alba, the pizzas were cooked in an oven lined with lava from Mount Vesuvius, a volcano located on the Bay of Naples.
    • Pizza makers have tried virtually every type of food on pizzas, including peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs and mashed potatoes!
    • According to Domino’s, some of the more popular international toppings are pickled ginger, minced mutton and tofu in India, squid (octopus) and Mayou Jaga (mayonnaise, potato and bacon) in Japan, and green peas in Brazil. In Russia, they serve pizza covered with mockba, which is a combination of sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon and onions. In France, a popular combo is called the Flambee, with bacon, onion and fresh cream.
    • There are approximately 61,269 pizzerias in the United States.
    • Approximately 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year.

    Broccoli Basics

    • We are eating 900% more broccoli than we did 20 years ago.
    • In 1970, consumption of broccoli was only a half a pound per person. Today, the average person in the United States eats four and one half pounds a year.
    • In the United States, broccoli was probably first grown by immigrants from Italy in home gardens in Brooklyn, New York. In 1923, a group of Italian vegetable farmers in Northern California started to grow broccoli commercially and in a few years they were shipping fresh broccoli to Boston and New York.

    Pick a Pepper

    • The most popular sweet pepper in the United States is the bell pepper.
    • Most peppers belong to the Capsicum annuum species.
    • As bell peppers mature, their color changes from green to red and they become sweeter.
    • Chile peppers are hot.
    • Dried chile pepper wreaths are called "Ristras" - a symbol of plenty and hope.

    See also Ag Day Fun Facts: Flora, Fauna and Food for Thought